The Houyhnthhnms: A Race Of Individuals Who Live By Reason?

Satisfactory Essays
The Houyhnhnms: A Race of Individuals Who Live By Reason
Of all the fictional peoples that Gulliver meets during his travels, author Jonathan Swift created a race of individuals who were consumed by living completely by reason and rationality. Gulliver finds this particular race as possibly the most favored of all the peoples that he encounters. “In his love of the Houyhnhnms, Gulliver accepts an idea of perfection which makes it impossible for him to understand or participate in human life” (Nichols, 1154). According to Gulliver the Houyhnhnms have no point of being problematic, but in fact he refers to these individuals as different from humans because they are “mingled, obscured, or discolored by passion and interest” (Swift, IV, 8). It is this admired quality which makes Gulliver want to make this fascinating land his home. This paper will discuss the characteristics of Swift’s Houyhnhnms, the good and bad aspects of their life of reason, and the different characteristics of the Yahoo’s, in comparison.
“The grand maxim of the Houyhnhnms is to cultivate reason and to be wholly Governed by it” (Swift, IV, 8 as cited by Nichols, 1154). This community of reason, according to Gulliver, emanates with the most well-adjusted peoples (MacKeracher, 5) that Gulliver has ever found in his travels. They were naturally endowed with characteristics of friendship, benevolence, decency, and civility. Gulliver saw these peoples as ones who were completely devoid of evil. Although their physical characteristics were that they resembled ‘horses’, their virtues were more of a positive nature, which Gulliver felt was so much more important.
Swift characterized these ‘peoples’ as a separate race, d...

... middle of paper ..., the Yahoos are not very flexible and do not have multiple characteristics. “They are uniformly loathsome throughout the tale” (Sullivan, 504). It seems that the creation of the Yahoos is something that Swift does to show his attack on mankind. He uses the art of satire to show how mankind can be loathsome and despicable, through the Yahoos.
The peoples (horses) of the Houyhnhnms were created by Swift to show how man should live by reason and not be overcome by their own passions. He uses the Yahoos to show the complete opposite of a society ruled with no reason, but with only their own ugly desires. The Houyhnhnms do have their good sides and their bad sides, but the Yahoos are rotten through and through. The clash of the two types of peoples does seem to reflect much of the world of Swift’s era; the good….the rational, and the bad….the irrational.
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